WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2009

Hasan's Ties Spark Government Blame Game

FBI, Pentagon Seek to Explain How Fort Hood Shooting Suspect's Alleged Extremist Contacts Didn't Raise Flags

  • Maj. Nidal Hasan

    Maj. Nidal Hasan  (AP)

  • Photo Essay Memorial at Fort Hood

    President Obama speaks at a ceremony honoring soldiers who died in the Fort Hood shooting rampage

  • Photo Essay Tragedy at Fort Hood

    Soldier opens fire at Texas military base

(CBS/AP)  Updated 6:57 p.m. EST

The mystery over whether the military knew Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan was communicating with a radical Muslim imam lapsed into finger-pointing ahead of congressional investigations looking into the Army psychiatrist's contacts with any extremists.

Even as President Barack Obama remembered those killed at the Texas Army post and condemned what he described as "the twisted logic that led to this tragedy," federal agencies reacted to conflicting claims about whether a Defense Department terrorism investigator looked into Hasan's contacts months ago with Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki, an imam who was released from a Yemeni jail last year, has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims across the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. A military official Tuesday denied knowing Hasan had such contacts.

Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case on the record, said the Washington-based joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI was notified of communications between Hasan and the imam overseas, and the information was turned over to a Defense Criminal Investigative Service employee assigned to the task force. The communications were gathered by investigators beginning in December 2008 and continuing into early this year.

That defense investigator wrote up an assessment of Hasan after reviewing the communications and the Army major's personnel file, according to these officials. The assessment concluded Hasan did not merit further investigation - in large part because his communications with the imam were centered on a research paper about the effects of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and the investigator determined that Hasan was in fact working on such a paper, the officials said.

Meanwhile, a group of doctors overseeing Hasan's medical training discussed concerns about his overly zealous religious views and strange behavior months before the shooting, the Associated Press reported today.

A military official familiar with discussions about Hasan says Hasan as a psychiatrist in training was belligerent, defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his Muslim faith. He also had a reputation for being a mediocre student and lazy worker, a matter of concern for doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences military medical school.

Hasan's peers refused to refer patients to him because of the behavior, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

Investigators have also begun tracking what Hasan did with his money. Although he was a major in the army medical corps with no family to support, he was living like a newly-enlisted private, Martin reports.

According to Army pay charts, a major with Hasan's time in service would make $93,000 a year in base pay and allowances. As a psychiatrist he would have earned specialty pay on top of that. Yet he lived in a $350 a month apartment even though he received $1,100 month in housing allowance.

Judging by the things Hasan gave away shortly before his rampage, he had few worldly possessions. One possible explanation: members of a mosque where he worshipped said he was a very generous man who helped others pay their utility bills, Martin reports.

Among the items that were found in a search of Hasan's apartment was the packaging from a laser guiding attachment for a handgun called LaserMax; the price tag for $229.99 was still on the package. Also found at the apartment: Jordanian and Israeli coins, a psychiatry exam, and a prayer mat.

A senior government official told ABC News that Hasan had contact with other people being tracked by the FBI.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Tragedy at Fort Hood

The disclosure came as questions swirled about whether opportunities were missed to head off the massacre in which 13 died and 29 were wounded last Thursday - a familiar, early stage in the investigation of headline-grabbing crimes when public officials involved in a case often speak anonymously as they try to shift any blame to rivals in other agencies.

The Senate already has launched its own inquiry into the Hasan case. Sens. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, plan to hold a hearing on the shootings next week.

The disclosure Tuesday of the defense investigator's role indicated the U.S. military was aware of worrisome behavior by the massacre suspect long before the attack. Following the disclosure, a senior defense official, also demanding anonymity, directly contradicted that notion.

The senior defense official said neither the Army nor any other part of the Defense Department knew of Hasan's contacts with any Muslim extremists. But the defense official carefully conceded this view was based upon what the Pentagon knows now.

Hours later, the same senior defense official reiterated that the Defense Department was not notified before the Fort Hood massacre of investigations into Hasan, despite the participation of two Defense Department investigators on two joint task forces run by the FBI that looked at Hasan. This defense official asserted that the task force ground rules barred any members from telling their home agency about task force findings without approval of the other investigators and wasn't aware of whether there was ever any discussion of doing that.

FBI officials were not immediately available to comment late Tuesday on what ground rules prevailed in the joint task forces or whether they were applied in this situation or not. One government official, however, pointed out that to complete the assessment the Defense Criminal Investigative Service representative had to access Hasan's Defense Department personnel file and determine what research he was conducting at the time.

The FBI has opened its own internal review of how it handled the early information about Hasan. Military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies also are defending themselves against tough questions about what each of them knew about Hasan before he allegedly opened fire in a crowded room at the huge Army post.

Earlier Wednesday The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Hasan warned his medical colleagues a year and a half ago that to "decrease adverse events" the U.S. military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims. Hasan made the recommendation in a culminating presentation to senior Army doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he spent six years as an intern, resident and fellow before being transferred to Fort Hood.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS News that after going through all the files U.S. intelligence has Hasan they have uncovered nothing to change their believe that Hasan acted alone, Martin reports.

Washington Post Slideshow: Hasan's Presentation on Islam .

More Coverage of the Tragedy at Fort Hood:
Counseling for Trauma, Grief at Ft. Hood
Ft. Hood Shooting: Composure Under Fire
Report: U.S. Knew Hasan Sought al Qaeda
Radical Imam's Web Site Praises Hasan
Fort Hood Reflects, but Work Carries On
Hasan Computer Shows No Terror Ties
List of Fort Hood Dead, Wounded

© MMIX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Add a Comment See all 259 Comments
by noloyalisti November 13, 2009 1:54 PM EST
If Hasan is a terrorist, he learned from the world's best: the United States military, the world's biggest purveyor of terror.
Reply to this comment
by noloyalisti November 13, 2009 1:53 PM EST
This is perfect story to keep the little, shallow brained, right wing, frightened Sheeple afraid. It fits into their childish, paranoid world view of terrorists behind every Bush.
Reply to this comment
by Empire-George November 13, 2009 1:55 PM EST
by noloyalisti November 13, 2009 1:53 PM EST

Not ever bush, just inside our ranks ,put there by libeal political correctness......thanks, your cavalier attitude got 13-14 people killed....but hey, cover your eyes, it didn't happen, right lib ?
by Empire-George November 13, 2009 1:34 PM EST
by 50BMS13 November 13, 2009 5:48 AM EST
Good post but 14 dead(one was 8 months pregnant)

are you kidding, that was just some choice in her womb

Reply to this comment
by AndyMaxo November 13, 2009 1:25 PM EST
From the article:
"Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case on the record.."

Does this sound like a "broken record" or what?

Do you know something we all should know about a murderer like Hasan or not? If you do then just say it! Don't wring your hands and hide behind anonymity.

You have my authorization to tell us something we don't know yet.

There, now someone has authorized you to take off your mask and speak.
Reply to this comment
by sam_38 November 13, 2009 8:38 AM EST
Great. So now Hassan will sue that his rights have been violated and he'll win a huge cash award and his freedom. Could the Fort Hood attack have been prevented? Hmmm, let's see. First you attack President Bush for listening in on the phone conversations of US citizens. An outrage! It must be stopped! OK. So ban surveillance of US citizens. Then you demonized the CIA for doing their job and Nancy Pelosi gets amnesia about what she was told when and individual CIA agents are in fear of prosecution--so no intelligence officer is willing to put their career and freedom on the line to go after possible threats. You attack the mean old US for Guantanamo and assure everyone that prisoners there will have full US citizen rights (are we going to let them vote too?) You claim there is no terrorism, just "man-caused disasters" so anyone who suspects terrorism must just be a bigot. Could this massacre have been prevented? Of course--if anyone in the White House spent any time whatsoever trying to prevent terrorism instead of coddling and apologizing to terrorists. Funny how President Obama's first reaction was sorrow for the shooter--er, wait, that was his second reaction. His first reaction was two minutes of shout-outs to his friends for organizing a conference.
Reply to this comment
by AndyMaxo November 13, 2009 1:34 PM EST
Now, now Sam - Obama never reacted with sorrow for Hasan and you know it. That's the first time I've heard that one. You made some valid points and then threw that one in.
by Empire-George November 13, 2009 1:53 PM EST
by sam_38 November 13, 2009 8:38 AM EST

His first reaction was two minutes of shout-outs to his friends for organizing a conference.

That's correct....you aren't the only one disturbed by how he carried out the briefing/conference.....yo' barry, a jihad-terrorist just killed 13-14 military personnel, why are you acting like that.
by justdatrooth November 13, 2009 4:55 AM EST
So there we have it. A terrorist attack under the Obama administration. We knew Obama was soft on terror and now we have 13 fine Americans dead because of this weakness.
Reply to this comment
by 50BMS13 November 13, 2009 5:48 AM EST
Good post but 14 dead(one was 8 months pregnant)
by RandomUser1886 November 13, 2009 12:13 PM EST
by justdatrooth November 13, 2009 4:50 AM EST
The Obama administration was warned and IGNORED the warnings. This buck stops at Obama's desk! He should resign.
Reply to this comment
by 50BMS13 November 13, 2009 5:49 AM EST
by 50BMS13 November 13, 2009 9:39 AM EST
by OIF_to_USC November 12, 2009 7:06 PM EST
I saw the blame game almost immediately after the murder of those Army troopers at Fort Hood. Who knew? Who should have known? Who didn't act...? The blame game continues, but the blame is misdirected toward a system that was set up for failure. Ironically, the culprit is right in front of us and that culprit is "political correctness." That same culprit reared its ugly head after 9/11 and in the aftermath of every questioned shooting incident in the Iraq War and the Afghan War. For whatever reason, it is not politically correct to question the loyalty of Muslim-Americans in the armed forces, or Latino-Americans serving on the Border Patrol, or African-Americans serving in law enforcement and the list goes on and on. I am an American born of Lebanese ancestry, a veteran law enforcement officer, and a veteran of the Iraq War. Was I ever inconvenienced at an airport? Yes. Was I angered or put out by it? No. My anger was directed toward al-Qaeda and others who would attack our country and place us in a wartime security environment. I think that there is a need to question beliefs, question behaviors, question motives, and act on them. I believe in profiling. Profiling worked great when used appropriately. Lastly, as a nation of many national origins, races, and other backgrounds, we need to stop being so damn squeamish about offending others. If we go on with this unreasonable political correctness at the citizen level, the result will be the irreversible intrusion of government through secret surveillance on the one hand and the free movement of the enemy though throughout our society on the other. Israel is a good example of a nation that utilizes its human resources to the max and does so with minimum risk. In spite of what people believe, there are a sizable number of non-Jews in the Israeli armed forces including Israeli-Muslims and Israeli-Druze citizens. The reason is that people are willing to take notice of their neighbors and question the out-of-the-ordinary. We used to do the same here. Yes, we made mistakes, but we learned from them too. Its time to stop making the mistake of political correctness. Those Army troopers at Fort Hood would still be alive if we had learned it sooner.
Reply to this comment
by CathyEButler November 11, 2009 6:19 PM EST
If we get to the truth, go over to England and note the new push to record private citizens every move under Homeland Security. It involves the recording and keeping of Telephone calls, all, emails, all, computer clicks, all, and any type of communications. The people are outraged but, under Good of Country clause it appears to be pushed to pass. We are next.

This Homeland Security is a 50 billion dollar industry, with the Legislatures tapping into its resources. We found in florida many of the legistlatures to prevent being exposed as corrupt are using the file systems of HS to ensure they are not exposed by blacklisting natural law abiding citizens. They have hooked up with the Department of Health and can now dictate if you live or die via your medical care. All legal.
With 50 billion dollars at stake in the US, do not count on finding the leaders of terrorism any time soon, as with most wars, those taking the money do not want the money flow to end or the reason for it.
Actually the terrorists have already won with little attempt to do anything; they wanted our Nation to stop being a free land...we have lost our freedoms over them. They wanted our budgets to focus on them, and at that amount of money they aceived it. They counted on our self centered career issues in America, and many in this program are there simply for career advancements. I grant there are a large portion of men and women who are sincerely determined to protect America, but, given the track record of police abuse in the US, government corruptions, and misuse of funds, Homeland Security would best serve with a central force that is and of itself, independant of local government access particually the use by Legistlative bodies as has been used around the US. It is a Legistlative dream come true in most states. Want to hide your crimes, simply notify local HS factors, and wala, those uncovering it will become overnight 'terrorists' floating around on black lists in America to prevent them from objecting.

This was a very sad, case for everyone but, it noted we spent an enormous amount of tax dollars with little results. Actually most of the recent discovery of the NY terrorists plans, were uncovered for the most part by British investigators and provided to the HS here.

Tweeking appears to be called for.
Reply to this comment
by vmcneal2 November 11, 2009 4:46 PM EST
by chevyhotrod November 11, 2009 4:17 PM EST
If you are attempting to compare Rush and Lou Dobbs to a murderous thug and treasonous terrorist you have got to be kidding. You really should seek help or maybe the FBI should open a file on you and take a look into your backyard, because you are completely nuts and could snap at any

As far as I know Rush Limbaugh has not killed anyone, but there is no question that he is a Anti-American verbal terrorist. Lou Dobbs is only slightly better...he seems to only hate people of Mexican decent.
Reply to this comment
by chevyhotrod November 11, 2009 4:56 PM EST
You are a complete joke and idiot, you have never heard Rush before and if you had you would recognize he is no Anti-American verbal terrorist you claim he is.

You are the hate monger, stop projecting your hate onto others.

Rush loves this country more than anyone. I have just started watching Lou Dobbs and he is starting to realize what is going on in this country, unlike you. If I read something correctly lately, Lou is married to someone of Mexican descent, fool. His wife was home when someone shot at his house, probably someone like you.

Wake up and get your head out of the sand.

Ignorance is our most expensive commodity.
See all 259 Comments
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